Shadow Hills boys' soccer surges into next round

Shadow Hills boys' soccer surges into next round

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Shadow Hills boys' soccer surges into next round

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INDIO

Three defenders stood between David Diaz and the goal that would cement a win for the record book at Shadow Hills High School.

As Diaz dribbled the ball 20 yards from the goal near the left sideline, teammate Oscar Lunheim found a crack in the defense. Just as Lunheim hit the hole, Diaz perfectly arched a pass over the Victor Valley defense. The ball landed directly on top of Lunheim, who then headed it into the net for the defining goal in a 5-0 Shadow Hills rout. It was the Knights’ first ever postseason victory.

Lunheim’s goal gave him a hat trick. They will face the Mission Valley League champions, Mountain View, Thursday at 5 p.m. on the road.

“I think this will give us confidence heading into the next game,” Lunheim said. “We just have to keep control and keep our mind focused.”

Adrian Aguirre put Shadow Hills on the board first Tuesday with a goal in the ninth minute. He sneaked the ball through a pile of defenders before firing off a desperation shot that sailed just past the Victor Valley goalie.

Lunheim knocked in the second goal, dribbling through the heart of the Jackrabbits’ defense and around two defenders on the right before blasting a shot that rolled back to the left of the goal.

In the second half, Lunheim scored again in the 56th minute, and then secured his third goal of the day on the header minutes later. After the goal, he simply stood in place and extended his arms to his side, as if to extenuate how the game had unraveled so swiftly. It was a glimpse of how far this team has come since early in the season, when the Knights lost six of eight games.

Derek Orkney took over as head coach midway through the year, and the Knights lost consecutive games, to Redlands East Valley and Cathedral City, by a combined score of 10-0.

“When we lost to Redlands, 7-0, after we got a new coach, that was hard,” Lunheim said. “That was really hard. But we got up and practiced hard and now we’re hear, so anything can happen.”

Since then, Shadow Hills has been among the top teams in the valley, going 8-1-1 over that stretch. That included Tuesday’s win over Victor Valley, which already puts this squad in a position few had envisioned just a month ago.

“This is what I thought they were capable of if they responded to the coaching,” Orkney said. “To throw in a cliché, I think we’re peaking at just the right time.”

The Knights scored three times in the second half — Diaz firing in the explanation point on a goal that sailed over the outstretched arms of the goalie and dropped just below the top right of the goal post — and probably could have scored more if there was more if the game was still in doubt.

If there was any questioning the legitimacy of that run to finish the regular season, it was put to rest quickly.

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